Almost Famous: An RN’s Celebrity Encounter

 For Brooke Cohen, RN, what seemed like a normal day on assignment at a pediatric oncology unit in Oakland, California turned out to be much more.

“I was working the 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. shift and the kids were telling us that a surprise visitor was coming,” Cohen recalled. “We didn’t really think anything of it, I just thought it was Barney or something.”

The bubbly Ohio native, who was on her first travel nursing assignment with travel staffing company American Mobile Healthcare, was completely star struck when world renowned funny-man Robin Williams crossed her path.

“I was giving a patient some medicine and I walked out of the room and he walked past me and I just stood there with my mouth wide open,” Cohen said. “Everyone started laughing and teasing me that I was, ‘So Ohio.’”

Williams was visiting the children in the pediatric oncology and hematology units at the Children’s Hospital in Oakland, something he does frequently, when Cohen met him.

“He visited with the kids in the playroom and read them stories,” she said. “He did a really good job; he got a photo with each kid and passed out pictures from his movie, ‘Night at the Museum.’”

All of the nurses and even some of the parents visiting their children on the floor found Cohen’s surprise at the sight of the celebrity so charming that they encouraged Williams to have his photo taken with her.

“My manager called me in and said, “Robin wants a picture with you,’” Cohen said. “I got completely embarrassed, especially when he said to me, ‘You’re like I was when I saw Britney Spears.’”

Cohen was shocked that her fellow nurses didn’t seem that surprised at the sight of such a major star, but this was her first assignment in California, where celebrity encounters are fairly commonplace. v

“The pictures of me and Robin were soon the screen savers on all of the computers in the hospital,” she said. “Staff members whom I had never met before would come up to me and say, ‘Hey, you’re the girl who was so star-struck by Robin Williams.’”

The pictures even made it back to her hometown in Ohio, where her father submitted them to the local newspaper, The Columbus Dispatch, and they were quickly published for all of her friends and family to see.

Cohen is now on her second travel assignment in San Francisco, California, where she lives with her husband and is eagerly awaiting her next chance of a celebrity sighting!

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